Military Family
Advisory Committee.

In order to best ensure that we are delivering programs for military families that are relevant and impactful, Together We Stand formed our Military Family Advisory Committee (MFAC). Consisting of military family members (spouses, serving members and veterans) and representing the Navy, Army and Air Force communities, the committee serves to guide the development of our programs. This group of volunteers are passionate about honouring and acknowledging Canada’s military families and we are thankful to have them as part of the Together We Stand family.

Meet our volunteers

Chairperson Suzie Fortin​

Suzie Fortin was born and raised in Saguenay, QC and she always wanted to explore the world and learn English. At 17 years old she joined the Naval Reserve as a Naval Communicator. She went to Victoria, BC in 1999 and Halifax, NS in 2000 to complete her training ashore and on ships.

Suzie attended University Laval where she completed her Engineering degree and MBA. She decided to do one last class B contract with the reserve after she graduated in 2004 and she just so happened to meet her husband Chris that summer. He followed her to Quebec City and then she had to go back to Saguenay to work in her field. In 2006, Suzie got a job in Gatineau and moved with Chris in Ottawa after they got married and Chris transferred to the Regular Forces.

Suzie followed Chris literally Coast to coast: Victoria 2007, Ottawa 2013, Montreal 2016, Toronto 2017, Halifax 2018 and back in Ottawa in 2020. Suzie has been a public servant since 2007 when she worked as the Material Engineer at CFB Esquimalt.

Suzie and Chris have two very resilient boys born in 2008 and 2011. Suzie held the home front when Chris was at sea or when he deployed. The two longest were a 8.5 months Navy deployment in 2013 and a 6.5 months in Kuwait in 2016.

Suzie works currently is the Engineering Manager and has been with the Canadian Coast Guard since 2016 as they enabled her to work remotely for the Headquarters in Ottawa for the last 3 postings.

Suzie has a unique experience as a reservist, a spouse, a mother and also a public servant for 3 Departments and is a proud first language French speaker. She wants to give back to the military families. She is so thankful for Together we Stand and everything they do and wants to raise awareness about the foundation to all military families but more specifically to the francophones.

Maryanne McGrath

Maryanne McGrath is an emerging professional in Edmonton, Alberta. When she’s not engaged in policy and governance work in the education sector, or out on a cruise with her car club, she’s involved in the administration of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program through her role as a Cadet Instructors Cadre Officer.

Her enthusiasm and dedication to bettering the lives of military families, particularly young military families, began with her experiences in her own military relationship with her Armoured Soldier partner.

Maryanne hopes to use her own growth and learning in navigating military family life to empower others and represent the voices of the next generation of Canadian Military Families.

Eleanor Millar

Eleanor is passionate about politics and has been involved with every aspect as both a volunteer in election campaigns for over twenty years as well as a political staffer working in Ottawa for Cabinet Ministers on Parliament Hill. She honed her research and communication skills and accompanied her Ministers on travel throughout Central and South America where it was an honour to represent Canada.

After leaving Parliament Hill, she joined an organization called CJPAC (the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee). As their Director of Campus Programming she was responsible for their flagship program – The Fellowship. Her focus was on training the next generation of political junkies and imparting her love for and knowledge about politics aimed at engaging students in the political process. She used her creativity and organizational skills to plan major conferences each year in Ottawa involving dozens of speakers over multiple days.

Looking for fresh challenges she joined Phaze 3 Management Inc in 2019 continuing her work with politics from a new perspective. She also started volunteering with Together We Stand Foundation. Bringing her experience in government and organization to Together We Stand she has helped with programs such as Operation Care Package and participated in The Command Post. She was an enthusiastic part of the second annual Military Family Appreciation Day and wants to continue working to develop these and other programs helping to support and honour military families across Canada.

She has been part of a military family for almost 20 years. Her husband, combat infantry Warrant Officer and trained paratrooper who has been deployed 4 times. They spent a long time apart pursuing their separate careers before coming together in Edmonton and then being posted back to Ontario. They have an energetic five year old son and an appropriately named cat, Remington.

Matt Anderson​

Matt is a Canadian Military Veteran who served in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. He was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.

On December 13th 2008, he was part of a patrol that was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device, resulting in 3 KIA (killed in action). Upon returning home, Matt was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and was medically released in 2013.

He has found helping other Veterans and their families an important part of his post service life, making the commitment to TWS an easy one.

Rebekah Mitchell​

Rebekah is a lifelong learner, professional historian, veteran spouse and mom to three children. She understands the sacrifices of military families and its members, as her grandfather-in-law, aunt, uncle, brother and husband have all devoted years of service to the Canadian Armed Forces. Following her husband’s medical release from the CAF, she has openly discussed the transitional challenges Veterans and their families face after service. She has also highlighted the importance of breaking down the stigma around mental health for the military and veteran community and psychoeducation, which has also transferred into her museum and archival work.

She is a graduate of Bishop’s University (Honours History) and the Master of Arts (Public History) program at The University of Western Ontario. She is Curator at the York Region District School Board Museum & Archives, and also serves as a guest lecturer at Fleming College, in the Museum Management and Curatorship & Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management programs. In addition to volunteering with Wounded Warriors Canada, the Highway of Heroes Clean-Up, her church community and other local charities, it has been an honour for Rebekah to serve the veteran community in her role as a veteran spouse on the Veterans Ombudsman Advisory Council since 2019. She is a Legion member and member of her local Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) chapter. In her spare time, she thoroughly enjoys volunteering, spending time outdoors with her family and has a love-hate relationship with her road bike.

Jimmy Cawley​

To Jimmy joining the army was not just a career choice it’s the “family business”. His father, a retired MWO, served with 2 Commando in the Airborne Regiment and with the PPCLI and his mother is a retired CWO with Supply Logistics. Even Jimmy’s stepmother cut hair in Afghanistan on two different occasions.

Jimmy served with the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and he deployed on multiple missions to Afghanistan during the 2000’s.

After being medically released Jimmy struggled to find a place in which he felt useful and most of all that he fit into. After a period of self medication and unclarity Jimmy came full circle and has and continues to keep on a path to his own recovery.

He has found by giving back to his community and helping as many brothers and sisters transition in their lives. “I can only hope that brothers and sisters don’t take the long hard road and can find their peace and recovery and most of all know they do not have to do it by themselves!”

Jimmy has worked as a peer mentor on many veterans’ treatment programs as well as helping with navigating and locating resources in the veteran community. “It is what helps fill my cup”. Also, it has been rumoured that Jimmy also makes the most exquisite and delicious Kraft dinner and hot dogs.

Angela Bakker

Angela is a “Military Mom” of a current Regular Force CAF Member. Having raised a son with strong conviction and commitment to join the Canadian Armed Forces from a very young age, the significance of attending his Swearing in Ceremony on the Queen’s birthday was not lost on Angela.

From BMQ, DP1, postings, courses, exercises and deployments, Angela has supported her son through his career with determination to help him succeed and has the same commitment and dedication to the military as he himself has given.

When her son joined the military Angela quickly saw the need for support for parents of single CAF members and found that support at her local Military Family Resource Centre, in several online communities and now Together We Stand.

Angela has actively advocated for parents to be more involved in and recognized in the military family community from the beginning of her son’s career. Knowing the reality of giving your child to Canada and the feeling of “now what?”, Angela hopes that by continuing to advocate for and by being a voice for military parents across our country with Together We Stand, more and more parents recognize their place in the military family community and the importance of their roll in it.

Angela is the mother of two adult children, has one grandchild and over the years has added many adopted in military “kids” to her family.

Its an honour for Angela to join the Together We Stand Foundation Military Family Advisory Committee and one she does not take lightly.

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